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KINGS OF THE ROAD

Three generations of Kings have driven Scania’s in Melbourne over four decades, and fourth generation waits in the wings

One hundred and sixty-eight million.

That’s how many house bricks Bryan King and his trusty Scanias have carted over the past 42 years to feed Melbourne’s insatiable urban sprawl.

As a kid, Bryan’s son Daniel loved going to work with him, so it was no surprise that he followed in his father’s and grandfather’s wheel tracks 14 years ago.

Daniel continued the 40-year family association with Scania when he recently took delivery of a new G 450 8x4 twin steer.    

“My Grandpa John King bought his first Scania in 1981, a 141. Dad worked for his father from 1981 until 1989 and then Dad bought his first Scania, the 143H that he still has. When I started driving for Dad it was in the 143H,” Daniel says.

“I was with him when he took delivery and there are many photos of me standing in front of Grandad’s 141 and Dad’s 143H. I spent a lot of time in both trucks with Dad, pretty much every school holiday and jumped at every opportunity to go to work with him.”

When it came time to collect his new Scania, Daniel’s son Jaxson went along, and there were many photos taken to record the moment.

“Scania has been a bigger part of Dad’s life than mine so far,” says Daniel. “The Scania brand is my favourite as I spent so many years going to work with Dad in the 141 then the 143H, sitting on the bench seat, and as a little fella falling asleep on it as well. I was doing that from the age of three or four into my teens. I couldn’t tell you how many kilometres we’ve done together.”

After many years of faithful service, the 143H was put on the reserve bench and replaced by a couple of American brand trucks. To the Kings’ dismay they proved very troublesome so when it came time to buy another truck Bryan didn’t hesitate jumping back into a Scania.

He has two G 480s, one a 6x4 and the other an 8x4.

“It was always my dream to own a Scania,” says Daniel “And I didn’t have to think twice when this one came up (the G 450 twin-steer). Dad has both the single steer and the twin-steer, and all are fantastic for what we have to cart.”

Three generations of Kings have carted bricks, starting with John now 92, then Bryan and now Daniel. Brian has been carting them for the past 42 years and Daniel the last 14.

“Dad was a very quick operator and the Scania was so reliable. I was so impressed I thought it’d be a great way to make living. I got my licence at 21 and haven’t looked back.

“Dad has done very well out of it, because he has worked very hard and that 143H Scania has earned him a lot of money because it’s been a bloody good truck,” added Daniel.

Bryan has owned the 143H for 30 years. So far it has travelled 1.8 million kilometres and proven to be totally reliable. At one million kilometres Scania did the engine up because it was using a bit of oil, but it turned out to be nothing more than the valve guides. The gearbox has been done once and it has had one replacement clutch, but the diffs have never been touched.

When Bryan was carting bricks in the early 1980s it was to the developing suburbs of Berwick, Endeavour Hills, and Narre Warren in the east and Werribee, Hoppers Crossing in the west. These days most of the bricks are heading to Geelong and Torquay on Victoria’s west coast as well as Tarneit, Wyndamvale and the newer outer eastern suburbs like Clyde, Packenham, Cranbourne and Officer.

Daniel’s G 450 8x4 carts up to 4000 bricks per load with a Moffett Mounty sitting behind for unloading and Bryan’s two G 480s work out of PGH’s two plants at Scoresby and Thomastown, so they can cover all of Melbourne. 

Although the building sector has slowed a little Daniel estimates his G 450 will travel about 70,000 km a year, which for a truck isn’t a lot, but it’s the conditions in which he operates that make it tough going.

“There’s a lot of strain on the driveline and plenty of stop-start driving, not only around the building sites and estates but also on Melbourne’s constantly clogged freeways,” says Daniel.

“It’s not like getting on the Hume and making a beeline for Sydney. All the estates we deliver bricks to are congested and coming back from Geelong or Werribee is a nightmare, which is why I have the automated gearbox in the Scania. You wouldn’t think twice about putting an auto gearbox in truck anymore. Kicking a clutch pedal is ancient history,” he added.

Daniel chose the G 450 for its suitability to the application.

“A lot of features that are extras in other brands are standard in the Scania. The comfort is unbelievable, and the turning circle is absolutely incredible and perfect for our work. The interior is like a luxury car and it comes with adaptive cruise control, Apple Car Play and a lot of safety features. It is very easy to drive and very smooth. It’s nearly like driving a car, even the way the doors open and shut,” says Daniel.

“The five years of free servicing was also appealing as was the helpful service of Roger Lake, the salesman, who was great to deal with.”

Bryan also praised the Scanias’ reliability and comfort. “The reliability is outstanding I have never had a day off the road due to a breakdown and as for comfort, it’s a given in a Scania.”

Running a small business means the incomings must exceed the outgoings and to assist Daniel with this is Scania’s truck monitoring system. He receives a weekly report on how efficiently the truck has operated. On fuel consumption, Daniel reports his new Scania is achieving 2.8 km per litre which is far better than the 1.8 km/litre from the American truck. So, he can see an immediate cost operating benefit with the Scania.

Daniel has also taken up the driver training to learn some pointers and more about some features of the truck that will help him.

“I was a little overwhelmed at the handover with so much to understand. Roger did a great job in demonstrating as much as he could, but even if we’d had half a day, it would be hard to pick it all up, so a day with the driver trainer will be invaluable and why wouldn’t you take it up?”

Daniel has also hooked into the Scania maintenance contract in addition to the service incentive and is impressed that the technology of the Scania tells him when it is due for servicing based on its operating parameters. Like the monitoring system, having the maintenance contract means Daniel can factor in the fixed maintenance cost to his business.

“You know where you stand at the start of each month and there are no nasty surprises like we had with those other brands.” says Daniel.

When asked about the future, Daniel simply said it would always include a Scania.